Taking a Closer Look at Saturday Night's State Championship Matches


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

It’s almost that time.

After months of practice, weeks of waiting and two full days of state meet wrestling championship Saturday is here.

By the time the final whistle is blown on Saturday night 42 wrestlers across three classes will stand alone atop the podiums at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Before the first state title match gets under way at 6 p.m. on Saturday we take a closer look at the six Your Prep Sports area wrestlers attempting to earn state gold.

Saturday’s Championship Matches

Class 3A

132 – Hunter Garvin (West High) vs. Aiden Riggins (Waverly-Shell Rock)

A couple of stellar sophomores meet looking for their first titles after narrowly missing out on state gold as freshman.

Garvin (32-3) returns to the state title match for the second straight season after a runner-up finish at 120 a year ago.

Top-ranked and riding a 13-match winning streak, Garvin defeated fourth-ranked Joel Jesuroga of Southeast Polk 4-3 in the semifinals.

Riggins (32-2) is seeking his first title after a third-place finish at 103 pounds a year ago. The third-ranked Riggins downed No. 2 Brock Espalin of Des Moines 10-3 in the semifinals.

The lone in-state loss for Riggins came 2-1 to 1A top-ranked Robert Avila Jr. of Lisbon who also owns an 11-8 win over Garvin this season.

145 – Graham Gambrall (West High) vs. Sam Kallem (Ankeny)

Two red-hot wrestlers collide in the 145-pound final where someone will taste defeat for the first time in 2020.

Perhaps no wrestler had a better Friday at the state meet than fifth-ranked Gambrall (35-5) who scored a late takedown to edge three-time finalist Ben Monroe 7-6 in the quarterfinals and rallied for a 9-7 win over top-ranked Deven Strief of North Scott in the semis.

A two-time medalist, Gambrall brings an 18-match winning streak into the title match and hasn’t lost since December 21.

Kallem (35-4) is one of the few wrestlers hotter than Gambrall, entering on a 23-match winning streak that dates back to December.

Third-ranked Kallem has a pin over his current 23-match win streak that includes wins over No. 6 Carson Martinson of Southeast Polk and eighth-ranked Brandon Mills of Fort Dodge on Friday.

160 – Ben Kueter (City High) vs. Tate Naaktgeboren (Linn-Mar)

Two of the top freshmen in the state meet on the big stage for the first time in what could produce the first of many titles for a couple of bright young stars.

Second-ranked Kueter (23-0) won the first meeting between the two as preps 5-3 in the finals of the Mississippi Valley Conference meet earlier this month.

No. 4 Naaktgeboren (36-2) has won eight straight matches since that loss to Kueter to set up Saturday night’s winner-take-all rematch.

Both freshmen have navigated challenging paths to the title match.

Naaktgeboren defeated sixth-ranked Jake Matthiadess of North Scott in the district finals and won 4-2 decisions over No. 5 Luke Fistler and No. 7 Carter Profitt on Friday to reach the final.

Kueter has been just as impressive downing Matthiadess 8-0 in the quarterfinals and top-ranked and previously unbeaten Caleb Helgeson of Johnston 6-3 in the semifinals.

182 – Will Hoeft (West High) vs. Taner Harvey (Boone)

It has been quite a week for Hoeft who secured a spot in the state finals exactly one year after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL that limited him in a sixth-place finish a year ago.

Hoeft (22-1) had to miss a few weeks this season due to some issues with the same knee but has shown no ill effects going unbeaten against in-state foes this season while racking up 16 consecutive wins entering Saturday’s final.

Second-ranked Hoeft defeated top-five foes Destin Schroder of Newton and Blake Underwood of West Des Moines Valley 6-2 on Friday.

Sixth-ranked Harvey (41-4) pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 3A semifinals on Friday with a 5-2 win over top-ranked Waukee sophomore Griffin Gammell.

The win over Gammell was part of a postseason surge for Harvey which includes a district win over third-ranked Underwood and 1-0 win over No. 4 Jake Hosch of Western Dubuque in the semifinals.

Hoeft defeated Harvey 11-3 in in the finals of the Rick Caldwell Invite on January 25

Class 2A

145Hayden Taylor (Solon) vs. Trestin Sales (Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont)

One of the top wrestlers in the state Taylor will look to add on to his already stellar prep resume with a second state title.

Taylor (51-0) became the first freshman champ in Solon history last season with a title at 126 pounds and will attempt to become the Spartans first two-time champ on Saturday.

Top-ranked Taylor can complete the second unbeaten season in Solon history and first since Lance Evans went 31-0 en route to the 220 pound title in 2014.

Sales (45-2) has won 18 straight matches to reach the state title match for the first time.

The eighth-ranked Sales won a 10-2 major decision over fifth-ranked Jackson of Rolfs in the quarterfinals and earned an 8-3 semifinal win over Nicholas Bockenstedt of North Polk.

170 – Jax Flynn (Solon) vs. Spencer Mooberry (Osage)

Flynn will attempt to complete his underdog run through the 170-pound bracket with a third consecutive win over a ranked foe when he faces second-ranked Mooberry in the finals.

No. 8 Flynn (48-7) avenged a regular season loss with a quarterfinal win over Emmetersburg’s Mason Griffin in the quarterfinals and used a late reversal and ride out to down top-ranked Jared Voss in the semifinals.

Flynn is attempting to team with Taylor to give Solon multiple champs in the same season for the first time ever.

It will be another tough task for Flynn against Mooberry (48-1) who hasn’t lost since falling to Voss 4-2 back on December 14.

Mooberry, who was sixth a year ago at 170 pounds, has had his own impressive state meet run with wins over third-ranked Cole Davis of Independence and No. 6 Blake Liebe of Sergeant Bluff-Luton.

Did you enjoy this subscription free article? Help keep Your Prep Sports free by becoming a member.